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Media Inventories: Inaugural Meeting
March 9–10, 2018

The workshop "Media Inventories of the Nineteenth Century" gathers seventeen US-based scholars from different fields working on media, literary, and cultural history, bringing into dialogue works-in-progress that address a variety of nineteenth-century media. The workshop is intended as an inaugural event that founds an ongoing working group and serves as the basis for collaborative publication projects.

inventory, n. 1. A detailed list of articles, such as goods and chattels, or parcels of land, found to have been in the possession of a person at his decease or conviction, sometimes with a statement of the nature and value of each; hence any such detailed statement of the property of a person, of the goods or furniture in a house or messuage, or the like. 2. a. gen. or fig. from 1. A list, catalogue; a detailed account.
inventory, v. 1. trans. To make an inventory or descriptive list of; to enter in an inventory, to catalogue. (Source: The Oxford English Dictionary, Online Edition, 2017.)

For a number of reasons, the idea of “media inventories” is felicitous for conceptualizing essential features of nineteenth-century media cultures. Inventory can be both a verb and a noun, i.e., inventories can refer to various processes of taking stock, finding, or discovering, but also to concrete lists, catalogues, or registries. It thus makes sense to ask how media are involved in processes of inventorying, how they themselves end up being concrete inventories, and how they can then be incorporated into other kinds of inventoried sites.

Taking these general questions as our points of departure, our broader goal with this workshop theme is to address how media are paradigmatically involved in techniques of inventorying as well as to move towards something of an inventory (or plural inventories) of nineteenth-century media.

—Sean Franzel (University of Missouri) and Petra McGillen (Dartmouth College), January 2018.

Title Image: Arithmetic Notebook, William Locke, early 19th century. Courtesy of Dartmouth College Library.